Langston Hughes showed me what it meant to be a black writer | Gary Younge | Comment is free | The Guardian

The whole point of having a black columnist, he thought, was to write about black issues. I had other ideas. I had no problem writing about race. It’s an important subject that deserves scrutiny to which I’ve given considerable thought and about which I’ve done a considerable amount of research. I have no problem being regarded as a black writer. It’s an adjective not an epithet. In the words of Toni Morrison, when asked if she found it limiting to be described as a black woman writer: “I’m already discredited. I’m already politicised, before I get out of the gate. I can accept the labels because being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from. It doesn’t limit my imagination, it expands it.”But that was not all I wanted to write about or what I imagined the function of a black columnist to be. It wasn’t, in short, the only adjective available and I had no interest in being confined by it. The fear of being pigeon-holed is one of the crippling anxieties of any minority. Being seen only as the thing that makes you different through the lens of those with the power to make that difference matter really is limiting. Instead of crafting your own narrative, you get a bit part from central casting in someone else’s play.

via Langston Hughes showed me what it meant to be a black writer | Gary Younge | Comment is free | The Guardian.

 

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